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Most people are looking back on the past year with a tinge of regret. They’re wishing they’d worked a little harder and/or gotten bigger results.

They’re also looking ahead, hoping to turn things around in the upcoming year. Maybe they’re hoping for a miracle that next year will magically improve.

The way we do this is through forward-focused reflection.

This five-step system gets you to look back on the past year, but not in a way that’s heavy. We don’t want to focus on the numbers, or reflect in a way that makes us feel bad about the past year.

We want to see progress and feel the momentum. Realize there’s more to do and recommit.

It will cause you to feel five specific emotions by asking five specific questions.

When you feel these emotions in the right order, you’ll know there’s more to do, and you’ll be excited to get it done next year with your team.

Here are the five emotions (in order) and the questions that evoke each emotion.

1. Pride and Gratitude

First, you want to look back on the past year and think, “Wow! I made big progress. I’m really grateful for what’s happened, and I feel good about achieving some wins!”

Question: What are your top 3 for the year?

The ‘3’ are wins, magic moments, and achievements for the year.

Want to do more than three? Knock yourself out!

The goal is finding progress points. This should get you to feel pride in what you have accomplished or gratitude for how lucky you are that things happened the way they did.

2. Growth

The second emotion we want to associate the past year with is growth.

I’ve found that re-framing things can be really helpful for clients. In the past year, they’ve had some wins, but they’ve also had tough times and things that didn’t end up so great. We want to re-frame these.

Instead of calling them ‘wins vs. losses’, re-frame them as ‘wins and lessons’.

Question: What are the biggest challenges you grew through? What did you learn from these that made you a better person and business owner?

This re-frames tough times into things that are now the raw material for the next year.

3. Incompleteness

These are the things you wanted to get done but didn’t finish. It tells you there’s work to be done in the coming year.

Question: What unfinished business do you have?

You’re looking for projects that didn’t get done or didn’t get done right. These are easy wins that create a need for working together in the next year.

4. Aspiration

Aspiration is what they hope to achieve next year.

Question: What are your top 3 aspirations for next year? And SMART goals to measure them by.

By now, they should be crystal clear about the top three things that happened this past year, how they grew, and what’s still unfinished. As they list out what their goals are for the coming year, we’re starting to move them toward a brighter future. SMART golds are numbers to measure with.

5. Drive

This is the last feeling we want to experience because it kicks people into action the quickest. The first four emotions are the foundation, and this is the kicker.

Question: How do you want your X to be different?

The ‘X’ here is the areas you focus on – marketing, sales, revenue, team, etc. Pick 4 or 5 X’s and write them down.

You’ll see that if you ask these questions and get to feel these five emotions, you’ll look back on your year as a win. Whether you smashed it or found it challenging, you’ll look back on it as a victory.

You are now in a position to recommit to yourself, your future, and your business.

Stop hoping you will recommit in 2019 year and use this strategy instead.